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Airport TSA Security Screener Busted For One-Man Theft Ring

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

7/10/2008 – Airport TSA Security Screener Busted For One-Man Theft Ring

What happens when those charged with protecting the flying public become those stealing from the flying public? This has come up time-and-time again.

Nearly 300 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Screening Officers (TSO) have been discharged and arrested in the past, however a screener at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) went further than the rest.

This week Pythias Brown, a six year veteran of the TSA, was charged with dozens of counts of theft from passengers at EWR, and faces up to 10 years in Federal Prison according to Assistant US Attorney Jenny Kramer.

What ultimately caused Brown to be caught was this theft of a camera, from an HBO crew, valued at US$47,900. What does one do with a US$47,900 camera? They place it on eBay, where someone looking for the stolen camera found it.

A camera Brown had allegedly stolen from CNN was also listed on eBay at the same time Brown had the HBO camera listed on eBay.

According to lead investigator Special Agent Thomas Adams, of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, 66 camera, 12 GPS units, 11 MP3 players, 31 laptops, 8 camera lenses, 2 DVD players, 6 video cameras, 13 pieces of jewelry and 17 electronic video games were found in Browns house when it was raided last week.

When confronted with the evidence Brown confessed to the crimes. He has been placed on administrative leave from the TSA and will be terminated shortly.

I will say what I have always said; the vast majority of TSA agents do a good job. These agents do what they can to protect the flying public, and with approximately 43,000 TSOs working throughout the TSA, the number of criminal TSA TSOs is a small percentage. However there needs to be more oversight of screeners.

How does a TSA screener leave work with a large movie production camera? How does a screener leave work with 66 camera and 31 laptops with no one noticing? What else did this TSA TSO steal from passengers over the past few years? Check out his eBay feedback here: http://EWRTSOEBay.notlong.com

I am happy that HBO and CNN have received their equipment back. I am glad the US DHS stopped this one-man theft ring. Hopefully this will lead to the TSA creating a new system to check TSOs and deter future thefts from the flying public.

Happy Flying!


  1. Now I know where to go and look the next time I get off a flight and my equipment does not show up.

  2. Ya gotta give the guy some credit, he did have a pretty good feedback rating.
    I guess all his customers were quite satisfied in purchasing stolen goods at far below market value.
    Free enterprise in action, it’s the America way.
    Also a shout out to eBay, good going in being the guy’s accomplice, and collecting your commission on the action.

  3. My favorite part of his feedback:

    September 2, 2008 – “Excellent and honest Ebayer!”


  4. Can you really blame ebay or the buyers? It’s not as if he was set up on some street corner with a bunch of high end camera lenses inside a trench coat.

    My question is how many of those people now realize they bought stolen merchandise.

    Fwiw, I DID have a camera stolen out of checked baggage (no compensation from DL). Checked ebay for weeks afterward, but no way to know if any of those cameras was ours.

  5. Susie & Drew,

    Did you fly through EWR? Do you have your serial numbers? If so, contact the TSA.


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